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Lawsuit claims D.C. funeral home stole from families

Lawsuit claims D.C. funeral home stole from families (ABC7)

When Levolia Hayes Jr. died from cancer, the 60-year-old’s family turned to Austin-Royster Funeral Home.

The Northwest Washington funeral home claims to provide “compassionate service.” Hayes’ daughter-in-law, Julene Luft, disagrees.

“Like, what’s happening? Where is the money at,” asked Luft.

On Monday, DC Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against the funeral home, which claimed the funeral home ripped off customers. Investigators also searched the funeral home for evidence on Monday.

It said Austin-Royster received Levolia Hayes’ $53,000 life insurance check to cover his $5,700 funeral. The funeral home was supposed to give the family the remaining money, but after countless calls, messages, and even a few drives from Maryland to Florida, the family said it only received one check from the funeral home, which bounced.

“The holidays won’t be the same. [The funeral home] drained us of so much money from these trips that we are in a really bad place right now,” said Luft. “We just want it to be over and we don’t want her to hurt anybody else.”

The Attorney General also said Austin-Royster operated without a proper license, which meant families could not receive death certificates from loved ones--- making it harder to access loved one's bank accounts or even bury or cremate them.

ABC7 called and messaged the funeral workers listed in the lawsuit, but so far we have not heard back.

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